Solar plane on 2nd flight
Brussels - Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse took off on Saturday for its second international flight from Brussels for Paris where it will be showcased at an international air show.
The pioneering aircraft took off at 16:37 GMT in cloudy conditions, according to images shown on its website www.solarimpulse.com. Heavy rain and strong winds had prevented it from taking off at 02:30 GMT as scheduled.
Solar Impulse HB-SIA, which has the wingspan of a large airliner but weighs no more than a saloon car, made history in July 2010 as the first manned plane to fly around the clock and through the night on the sun's energy.
In May, it completed its first international flight from Switzerland to Belgium.
HB-SIA relies on 12 000 solar cells on its 64m wings to charge the batteries that provide the energy for the 10-horsepower electric motors driving four propellers.
It holds the endurance and altitude records for a manned solar-powered aeroplane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, flying at 9 235m.
This time, the high-tech plane is expected to rise around 2 500m in altitude. The flight is being transmitted live on www.solarimpulse.com.
The Solar Impulse team is aiming to make possible transamerican, transatlantic and round-the-world flights - in stages - in 2013 and 2014 using a slightly larger aircraft.
The 49th international air show at Le Bourget, just outside Paris, runs from June 20 to 26.